Eve Online And The Big Nerf

By Jim Rossignol on August 9th, 2008 at 5:30 pm.


I’ve been playing Eve Online on and off for about five years now and I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much controversy as that being generated by the most recently proposed changes. These changes basically concern how fast medium sized spaceships should go, and what the ramifications for the rest of the game will be if they’re made to slow down. The mixture of rage, indignation and constructive feedback that has emerged in response to the proposals has created a sixty-three page thread on the official forums, and countless arguments elsewhere – even between my own Eve Onlining chums. But are the subs-paying players right to be angry when the developer changes the nature of their favourite toy? And who should be calling the shots anyway?


The argument taking place over the nature of speed as a tactic in Eve Online casts CCP in a rather autocratic light. The speedy ships that have evolved over the past eighteen months have appeared organically, as players did what they do best: figure out how to squeeze the most out of their chosen game. CCP have said that they want the tactic removed, and that’s that. Feedback might tweak things, but the changes are needed, say the CCP space-combat boffins.

The people who pilot the speedy ships, and have spent hours grinding for the money (or seconds trading game-time cards for the money), are predictably non-plussed, and have vented according. But do they have any right to their anger? Is it not the case, in fact, that CCP have a responsibility to keep the game evolving, and to keep it changing? Even if speed is a positive force in the game (which is highly debated), doesn’t CCP’s mandate to keep the game alive mean making changes that will ensure it cannot stagnate, even when those changes are radical? Speed is, as CCP point out, the most important factor in combat. So important that it is now the primary consideration in almost any Eve Online PvP situation. So should the balance be necessarily changed for the sake of progress?

Okay, I’m being slightly silly here, but nevertheless I think it’s worth stressing that Eve’s primary strength is its modular, changing nature. It is not finished, and it might never be: and so doesn’t an evolving game experience mean that the mechanics need to shift, as well as content?

In my incredible book about videogames I argue that Eve is basically a ongoing symbiotic process – the developers need the players, and the players need the developers. They both get something out of the deal. But what this also implies is that Eve cannot remain static: both player and developer are involved in making this game change and grow, and perhaps that means the developer has to make some unpopular decisions for the good of the process as a whole. The relationship between player and developer is not one of equals, nor is it always at its best when it is entirely amiable.

Eve Online has never stayed the same for long. When it does stop change – for good or ill – it will be dead.

I, for one, welcome our Nerfing Overlords, and hope that a new landscape of (slightly slower) space tactics awaits our careful exploration.

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69 Comments »

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  1. Sahagin says:

    Yeah I was playing Eve Online the other day and decided to mine for a bit, so I went and zzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzZzZZzZzzzzz

  2. Josh says:

    I really, really wish EVE was free to play. I’m significantly more interested in science fiction based…well, anything, over fantasy, and I usually try to give all sci-fi based MMORPGS a shot. EVE was interesting, but incredibly slow going, and not something I’d be willing to pay a monthly zzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzZzZZzZzzzzz

  3. Stella says:

    I like the change. The ridiculously high speeds that Heavy Assault Cruisers were able to obtain made them practically invulnerable and stole the speed role from the smaller ships that were designed for it. Then again I didn’t spend billions on implants and speed rigs. I hate what CCP has done with Minmatar ships though. Speed was literally the only thing they had going for them, and with the upcoming nerf there is basically no reason for anyone to fly them. The Tempest weighs more than a Raven now for God’s sake.

    But I digress…When I first saw this post I assumed it was about the nerf to suicide ganking, which in my view illuminates the devs vision of EVE in the future much more clearly than the speed nerf. The speed thing is just a balance issue. The ganking nerf signifies a much deeper shift in the attitude of the game.

  4. Deuteronomy says:

    Are we talking about nano-battleships? That shit’s crazy anyways.

  5. Janek says:

    I think what’s generating quite a lot of ire is that it’s not just a gradual shift in mechanics, with continual tweaking over a longer period – they’re actually wading in with a whole bunch of fairly major changes all at once. It seems like quite an extreme reaction to fixing a problem they created themselves, what, 18 months ago?

    Possibly the fact that it has taken them this long to decide that actually, they don’t like extreme speeds much, has led to a lot of folks whose playstyle is fairly well entrenched.

    Interesting to note also that as far as I can see, the loudest complainers are those who are sort of “middle-aged” in game terms – maybe two years old or something. As opposed to the grizzled veterens of the first year or two of the game, in which the mechanics were chopped and changed a lot more than they have been since.

  6. Shihouka says:

    EVE favors those who will be the first to figure out and exploit an advantage introduced by changes to the game mechanics. Once the advantage becomes well known and turns into a fad, CCP nerfs it.

  7. araczynski says:

    at the end of the day, the devs are the ones that have the final say, if they don’t like where the game is going, they’ll change things, if the gamers don’t like it, voice your opinion and vote with your money, nobody gives a shit about anything other than your $$.

    if all the $$ disappears, guess what, they’ll probably change things back, or not, SW didn’t seem to care.

  8. roBurky says:

    Yes, it’s the length of time this state of things has been allowed to go on that’s leading to the controversy. If they had carried on trying to tweak things back when they introduced the items that caused this, there wouldn’t have been any fuss.

    But then again, thinking on things this long is seemingly allowing them to make more radical changes to related things that have needed changing since before the current speed problems. Which is good.

  9. Jim Rossignol says:

    Yeah I was playing Eve Online the other day and decided to mine for a bit

    Possibly where you went wrong?

    Also, the suicide ganking changes seems more of a mess than the speed changes. The insurance payout loss is all that’s needed.

  10. Snarf says:

    It became silly when a Nano-HAC can go almost as fast and sometimes faster than an Interceptor, which is essentially two class sizes smaller. I’ve seen Nano-HAC’s used as scouts for a larger fleet, a role usually reserved for Covo-ops and Inties. When one ship type’s primary role is made redundant by a different class, then it has to be looked at.
    I noticed you never mention what Corp or Alliance your in Jim, afraid of the ire it might attract from readers? :p

  11. Jim Rossignol says:

    I’m not in an alliance currently, and I doubt most Eve players would have heard of my tiny PvP corp.

  12. Snarf says:

    Depends if you have space in 0.0 or not. Sometimes I miss smaller corp stuff, but I’m enjoying some big fleet battles at the moment. Apart from the ones where I sit idle for 3 hours waiting for something to happen

  13. Jim Rossignol says:

    I sit idle for 3 hours waiting for something to happen

    This is the reason we’re not in an alliance. Been there too many times :)

  14. Jim says:

    Found this really hard to get in to, someone make a WWII MMORPG already :(

  15. Dolphan says:

    I’m constantly curious about Eve, but it would suck me in and I don’t have the time. Played a month about 2 and a half years ago – it’s the only time I’ve actually got into the social side of mmos, chatting to random folks who were a) mostly not 13 and b) interesting, non-typical types, even the 13 year olds. This was partly because I was sitting around mining or just flying a lot, and partly because joining a corp felt natural – in my dalliances with WOW and its ilk I’ve always felt like levelling in a guild was cheating, somehow, and I never got anywhere near raiding.

  16. Diogo Ribeiro says:

    Jim, you cad. I thought you weren’t going to pimp the book again :D Then again, you did say ‘maybe’ at the time :)

    Honestly I don’t know what to make of it since I never played EVE Online but I did enjoy your writings about it over at Eurogamer. I suspect anything I might say turns out rubbish, so… I’m also of the mind player and developer relationships can be tricky. The only parallel I could draw for myself on this one would be with other games I’ve followed over the years – Fallout 3, Invisible War, Thief: Deadly Shadows – and how sometimes, not all change might be for the best of some players but necessary for others. It’s harder to argue whether something might be better for the game itself, I think, so it might just be one of those times where change for improvement and change for perceived improvement might have crossed paths.

    PS: the book is available through Amazon.uk, yes?

  17. Mark Stephenson says:

    Oooo time for me to be an angry internet man and act like everybody who plays Eve is a wanker just like everybody does when a WoW post comes up.

    Eve YAWN! Tedious! Boring! How can anyone play it? Yawnsville? Thief of Time! Stupidly Addictive! People who play it have no life. They are all “Losers” and I’m not coz I don’t play it. I’ve got nothing better to do than comment on a post about a game I have no interest in because I have no life. I used to play it but stopped an now I’m better than everyone else who still plays it because I’ve got a keyboard and I’m gonna use it but what’s better is I get to be a condesending cunt to everyone who still plays it … and so on.

    But in all seriousness I think in these situations the developers have to do what they think is best.

    At the end of the day it’s their game that will live or die. We all saw what happened to SWG when they changed the game a little to much and the fans wept, cried gnashed their teeth and left.

    From an outward looking in perspective the “vocal” Eve Fanbase have generally had a “our devs listen to us nur nur nur” attitude and cock their noses up at everybody else and really it’s about time they realise that it’s CCP’s baby not theirs and CCP should and need to do what they think is right.

  18. Turin Turambar says:

    Joke post Jim? There is already a WW2 MMORPG action game.
    http://www.wwiionline.com/

    Of course, it’s already a bit old.

  19. Jim Rossignol says:

    I went on a WWII Online bombing run a couple of years ago. Died horribly.

    I suspect my feelings toward that game are mirrored by most people’s feelings towards Eve.

  20. RichPowers says:

    Man, I thought they were adding one of these to Eve Online. *rimshot*

  21. Dinger says:

    Any complex game with a fundamental asymmetry is going to need considerable balancing and tweaking over time. That’s part of it.

    What I find interesting is how developers manage this balancing and tweaking. “Nerfs”, big and small, are a fairly drastic measure.
    One of the cooler philosophical approaches starts with acceptance. Basically, accept as a principle that the game is never going to be perfectly balanced, and, as the player base gains experience, the game will drift out of balance in some direction. At that point, use a game update (New technology, new toys, whatever) to swing the balance in another direction.
    So, let me beat the TF2 drum again: they monitor and publish their class use statistics and then release new “class packs” to bolster the interest in the least-played classes. Hence Medic-Pyro-Heavy (funny how the highest-scoring-per-minute class is also the least played).
    Even so, they had to nerf the Backburner.

    Yeah, it sucks that CCP had to nerf the medium-sized ships speeds. It sucks because they couldn’t find a more elegant solution to a fundamental design problem. Ah well, you adapt.

  22. Noc says:

    I dropped back into EVE recently when they gave me a couple free weeks for the new expansion; that stint wrapped up last weekend, so I was just in time for this whole thing to break. I haven’t been keeping up, so I don’t know if anything’s developed recently, but what struck me the most was that a tremendous amount of ire – including the 50-odd page petition against the change – popped up before the changes even hit the test server.

    Then someone forgot to moderate the feedback thread, and what could have been a helpful resource to the developers degenerated into another fifty pages of babbling and vitriol. Last I checked, which was a few days ago, there had only been a small token developer response.

    The result is that I find myself wondering what, exactly, the relationship between EVE’s developers and its players is. I trust the developers’ judgement because, well, EVE’s pretty cool. If they were the supreme incompetents they’ve been called so many times over the past few weeks, then they surely couldn’t have put this whole thing together in the first place.

    I got the definite impression that the huge breadth of changes was introduced to see what worked and what didn’t, and that rollbacks were intended from the beginning . . . but now, I wonder how many things will stay simply out of spite. The greater portion of the angry posts rolled out within the first day or so of testing, and I wonder if CCP is willing to sift through that heap and find the few gems with the interesting ideas, and go “Huh, maybe this is worth a shot,” and make the changes. It occurred to me, though, that I really couldn’t blame CCP for throwing up their hands and claiming that, you know, if the playerbase isn’t capable of being constructive, then they don’t get to be listened to.

    As Jim said, though, maybe that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The presiding opinion among cooler heads seems to ask for small tweaks, to gently nudge the game towards a theoretical ideal instead of making huge sweeping changes to many things at once that will throw everything into disarray. But the idea of change for change’s sake in EVE being worth it . . . is an interesting one. One of the interesting points I drew from the original Dev Blog post about the Speed Nerf is that it would leave more room for players to develop new tactics; Speed wasn’t necessarily overpowered, but it was becoming to easy of an answer.

    Maybe CCP is intentionally trying to not let the game mechanics prescribe solutions. They don’t know what the answer to the new state of combat will be, but they trust the players to figure it out. The obvious answer bandied about not seems to be missiles, but I suspect that the more EVE’s population will find a way to adapt to a missile-dominated battlefield in interesting ways. And once THEY’VE got the tactic to work, everyone else will follow suit and it’ll be time for another patch.

  23. teo says:

    I liked EVE but even if it’s different from other MMOs it’s still an MMO. It makes me want to play it a lot but I can rationally say that doing so is rather pointless, there are so many better things I could be doing, and I can’t justify playing just a little bit because there’s a fee and I’m a student

    The way the game is set up is perfect for making you pay even if you’re not playing. I’m glad I don’t anymore

  24. kadayi says:

    I’ve always gotten the impression that the Eve developers have been fairly on the ball with their development process throughout the games history. I’m quite sure they aren’t doing this nerf lightly, but clearly in their view based on feedback and their own personal experiences somehow the delicate rock (firepower), paper (numbers), scissors (speed) mechanic that typically feeds into the MMO combat equation has become unbalanced and needs redress, to restore equilibrium. This phenomena is normally aways the case when a set of new toys is introduced into the Multi-player playpen. Generally what people are up in arms about isn’t the nature of the nerf itself though, but more the investment they have given over to it, in terms of both time; perfecting their approach, establishing tactics, etc. and ingame cost; physical losses incurred due to the imbalance, expenditure incurred having to (often reluctantly) adapt to it in order to survive by leveling the playing field. Sucks for a great many players I suspect, but this is the nature of things.

  25. Sum0 says:

    I know zilch about Eve, but it occurs to me that if any one element gives you an unfair advantage in combat, there’s something wrong with your combat system.

  26. Rufust Firefly says:

    The EVE developers seem fairly schizophrenic. They spend thousands of manhours developing something nobody gives a shit about (walking in stations) and yet don’t spend as much time on things many people care about (the godawful lag during fleet battles).

    EVE is a tremendous playground but it’s very difficult to take full advantage of it. CCP made an interesting move with the player council–not many developers would fly a bunch of people to Iceland just to talk about their game–but I don’t think anything useful came out of it.

  27. Charlie says:

    I always wanted to love Eve but I just couldn’t get into it.

  28. grumpy says:

    I know zilch about Eve, but it occurs to me that if any one element gives you an unfair advantage in combat, there’s something wrong with your combat system.

    Which is why they’re changing it. They simply never anticipated that ships would be able to reach these insane speeds, where you can literally outrun the fastest missiles with ease. And that is also why they can’t, as someone said above, find a “more elegant” solution. It’s not like in TF2, “We need to spur interest in the Medic class, so let’s make it more interesting”. It’s fundamentally, “when people are doing this, they break the entire combat system. Our physics engine can’t handle ships going at 11KM/s, and most weapons simply become useless”. It just plain doesn’t work. It’s not that it’s too popular, but simply it breaks the game. Thge physics engine starts behaving oddly, it makes specialized ships useless because their specialized purpose can be better filled by other ships. Interceptors are pointless because their sole advantage, crazy speed, is nothing compared to what the big tanks, heavy assault ships, can achieve.
    And since it doesn’t work, they need to fix it. That is, they need to get ships back to the speeds they were intended to fly.

  29. kororas says:

    I played eve for 3 years. I quit this year not many months ago. It was the biggest thief of my time ive ever known from a game in my gaming ‘career’ so far. However i had a lot of fun times, met alot of great and not so great people and kicked arse!

    The whole speed issue did get out of control imo. I’m not surprised at seeing this announcement, its just come a lot later than i expected. I think the devs should have nipped this one in the bud a while back.

  30. Azhrarn says:

    @Rufust:
    The Walking in Stations thing is done by a completely seperate development team.
    Basically it is being used as the testing platform for the “World of Darkness” MMO Whitewolf is working on with CCP, so that isn’t eating into the development time for anything concerning EVE.
    As for the lag, the situation has improved a great deal over time, the main problem is that as the lag decreases fleet-fights tend to get bigger until they lag again. However CCP is working on improving TQs hardware by upgrading the whole server to infiniband and by making changes in the way the servers communicate to allow for dynamic load switching between nodes. (at present it takes server downtime to redistribute node allocation)

    All this will allow for larger groups to engage with less lag, however the lag will return instantly as the changes mean that the fleets will get bigger to compensate.

    As for the changes being made, fast ships will still be fast, just no longer invulnerable which is where the problem was.
    You could not hit a nano vessel with anything.
    Turrets couldn’t track it, missiles simply couldn’t hit it, they could strike with impunity, that is being taken away. (perhaps a bit to aggressively, but that is what testing the changes is for)

  31. Jae Armstrong says:

    Yes flock, the dev giveth and the dev taketh. And surely, many will lament that he is heavy on the taketh this time around.

    :D

    Is this really the most controversial nerf we’ve had yet? I remember the carrier changes earlier in the year spawned something like 200+ pages of bile in the feedback thread alone, and probably another hundred spread around other threads.

    Personally… I’m only up to a Myrm, and never even bothered to train for MWDs, so the only time I’ve ever flown a ship faster than ~600 m/s was on Armageddon Day. This taught me that the Hyperion cannot steer for shit.

    @Dinger: Are you trying to argue that nerfs should be used only ever as a last resort? That’s madness. A nerf should be the default, nay, automatic response to an overly dominant (e.g. to the point of out competing all others) tactic. Why? I’ll refer you to Musashi, who said it seven years ago and said it better than I ever could.

    And it’s not as if this is entirely unsignposted, either. What I will object to is the scale of the changes. Putting aside the risk they run of going too far in the other direction, they’ll destroy the game’s combat paradigm without giving them any time to adapt. That’s going to piss people off more than a string of smaller nerfs with the same overall effect but space so that there is time for both dev and player to reflect on the changing face of gameplay.

    @Jim (not Rossignol)
    Oh God no. WWII needs to be taken outside and shot in he back of the head, and quickly. I would pay good money to stand a bald, thickset man with a suit and too many tatoos over every dev in the world while they worked and break a finger every time they so much as thought of the period 1936-1945.

    Okay, that’s a bit harsh. Treyarch may have hit a nerve taking COD back to that godforsaken era.

  32. Dinger says:

    @J Armstrong: Yes, I am arguing exactly that. The page you linked doesn’t provide any argument against it, only that nerfing is better than doing nothing or buffing all the other classes. I agree with that argument. But that doesn’t mean nerfing should be the first and automatic response: as even the AC article you listed recognizes, nerfing comes with a cost, and that social cost isn’t pretty, and gets less pretty the longer you let an imbalance go on. So by all means, you should get creative before nerfing.

    Of course, if you’ve got a MMO with a very basic combat system, your options are going to be very limited. On the other hand, those fewer factors should allow you to predict most imbalances before they happen.

    So yes, I am saying that. Sometimes it’s a necessary solution, but it’s always the most costly real solution. “Doing nothing” is not a solution and “Buffing every other class” is effectively the same thing.
    So: A. anticipate imbalances, B. understand that every online game tends to disequilibrium over time and C. look for creative solutions. Ideally, design that latitude into the game early on.

    And why should a medium ship travel slower in space? It’s not like resistance is much of a factor.

  33. Stick says:

    The attitude that baffles me is, if something takes sk1ll / lots of resources / x hours invested… it’s supposed to be beyond rebalancing? I dunno. It’s a weird sense-of-entitlement thing.

    “I worked hard to become untouchable, I don’t care if it breaks the game for everyone else and goes against intended design.”

    As for small, gradual changes versus big huge stuff… a lot of people will yell “HUGE NERF!” at any rebalancing of their favourite toys. Ripping off the bandaid all at once might actually generate less screaming in the long run.

    If it forces everyone to adapt all over again… good. One-trick-ponyism is the doom of interesting gameplay. :)

    Haven’t played EVE since January, but… nagging urge to return. Damnitall.

  34. Comstar says:

    Jim- What’s your problem with that? Bombers die horribly when there is fighter defence and no escort.

    Long range stratagic bombing in WW2OL is worth doing, so it’s also worth stopping the other side from doing it.

    Something EVE, with it’s always-safe Empire space, zzzz space mining and ability to use cap ships to move past blockades, can’t do. “Corse stratagic attacks in Eve just means logging a cloaked ship in the system while AFK. ZZZz.

  35. Wurzel says:

    @ Dinger: That’s quite interesting thinking about the physics of the issue, actually. Presumably a bigger ship can create a bigger thrust, and so surely should be able to go faster than small ships. There’s manouverability to think about I guess; a small ship with less mass will have less inertia to deal with, and so should be able to turn faster. Even so, it makes little sense for ships in space to have a max speed, as there’s no resistive force to create a terminal velocity.

    Aaanyway, back on topic; I can see why this would piss people off, given that they might have devoted 18 months in Eve’s arduous skill training system to get this build which is now much less good. From a certain veiwpoint, CCP are invalidating that time, cheating them of however many days of skill training. Even so, sometimes bad things need to happen for game balance, and it’s better that a minority who have suffered because of this nerf than the majority suffer because o a broken combat system.

  36. Jante says:

    I don’t neccessarily oppose the upcoming nerf completely, but some of the changes are just ridiculous. I’ve trained Minmatar exclusively, and I don’t see much reason to fly them anymore if CCP goes through with these changes. The Tempest has already been mentioned, but also the Vagabond, argueably the biggest target for this nerf. It was supposed to be a quick ship for it’s class, but with the proposed changes it’s going to turn around slower than some battlecruisers, making orbits pretty much impossible and acceleration a bitch.

    Speed wasn’t that much of an issue if you prepared your gang for it. A few dedicated stasis web ships and a fast-moving enemy is turned into space dust in seconds. I would at least want to see speed as an option in combat, especially if my ships were supposed to capitalize on it.

  37. wyrmsine says:

    The speed-nerf seems, to me, like a lot of the Eve decisions over the last year: an attempt to push the game towards large-scale, big-ship fleet engagements. I’d guess that CCP is tired of small gangs and “goon-tactics” disrupting their vision of epic space armadas. If anything, they should let tactics alone for the moment and fix the lag issues…

    My only real issue with the nerf would be that I’m a primarily Minmatar flyer : over 3 years, my combat style has adapted to favour the short-range, high-speed setup. That said, I’m not one of the uber-tankers; 4km/second in a Vaga is where I top out, and I’ve yet to have an easy combat in that ship. Calling the balance broken ignores the many counters to the speed tactic, and it seems pretty heavy-handed. It’s extremely annoying that my expensive ship designed (by the devs) for high-speed engagements is now functionally useless (and worth considerably less) in it’s original role. It’s even more frustrating that I’ve read a number of more sensible solutions ignored in favour of a widespread speed ban that nerfs pretty much all my favourite ships. I’m trying to figure out why you’d take one of the least popular races and weaken their one consistent attribute. It’s not like there’s a lot of Minmatar pilots out there as it is.

  38. Snarf says:

    @Cornstar Empire isn’t always safe. Granted it pretty much is above .5 security, but under that there is a chance a pirate will turn up and kill you before CONDORD can arrive. Also using caps to get past blockades do work, but I’ve been in small gangs that go looking for these caps and can lock them down and destroy them.
    Yes space mining is boring, but that’s only a small part of it. Hell I think I’ve mined for a hour at most on my main character, and that was for a mission.

  39. Jae Armstrong says:

    AAAAAAAAAAH!

    Computer just ate my post. Let me try this again.

    @Dinger

    I get the sense we’re arguing from different precepts here. I, personally, don’t believe that pissing off the fanbase is a valid mark against nerfing. It’s something you want to minimise, sure, but it’s not a good basis to discount a tool on. But I think you think it does.

    Being creative has different problems altogether. Essentially you’re piling complexity on top of complexity, and that can lead to unintended emergent consequences. If you keep doing it, you’re liable to reach a point where the system collapses under its own complexity- a lot of people already find EVE bewildering. Not to mention the fact that you’re making the system more difficult to balance.

    If anything, I’d argue that excessive creativity is what got us into this problem. Great works did the devs work upon the surface of New Eden, but when they turned around to survey what they had wrought, they found that their well intentioned children had spawned a demon, and its name was SPEED. They’ve been adding and adding and adding, but they hardly seem to stop and just, y’know, fix things.

    As for the physics- they never made any sense to begin with. This is a game balance problem, and any arguments for or against should be couched in terms of game balance.

    @ Wurzel

    Actually, your acceleration is not linked to your thrust but your thrust per unit mass. A bigger ship produces more thrust, yes, but it also has more mass, and unless the added thrust is proportionally greater than the added mass it’s not going to translate into greater acceleration. There are practical upper bounds to acceleration in any case; the ability of the ship and crew to withstand accelerative forces. going from 0 to 8km/s in three seconds is very nice on paper, but you’re going to turn your crew into a thin red paste like that.

    As for turning… hmm. Again, the practical limits of stress come into effect here, but they’re not going to affect all ships equally. Torque increases the further you move from your fulcrum, so I suppose you could make the argument that small objects can turn quicker. Though by turn I mean rotate in place. Changing your velocity vector comes under the same rules as above.

  40. wiLD0 says:

    I’ve been playing off and on since 2004 and I welcome the changes. My view of EVE is that it is by far the most bloody brilliant MMO out there but also one of the most poorly executed.

    There are people that like the near untouchable-ness of a nano T2 cruiser, but I’m not one of them. I think they’re a luxury for those who have the money or time to play multiple accounts. Go hard or go home is the motto of high-end PvP.

    Vari

  41. Jae Armstrong says:

    And by precepts I mean principles. ‘:|

    Or maybe axioms. When in doubt, go with axioms.

  42. Janek says:

    Wyrmsine: I disagree that this is necessarily pushing the game towards blob-war. Once upon a time, there was no such thing as a nanoship, and you still saw roaming gangs cheerfully skipping through hostile space picking fights with the locals. Admittedly the game (and player mentality?) has changed since then, and 0.0 is a lot more crowded, but I still think there will be a net benefit – you’ll actually have to pick your fights, rather than just wading into anything you find and being able to disengage and run with minimal losses.

    Incidentally, IMO 4-5k in a Vaga is just about right. The thing is, it’s pretty easy to get that sort of speed in, say, an Ishtar, Huginn, Zealot or Sacrilege, who are filling the Vagabond’s role (go really fast) in addition to other roles (big damage, electronic warfare, etc). The Vaga has big drawbacks in terms of tracking/range, which other speed-fit ships don’t have. Nothing wrong with a ship designed to be fast, going fast.

    So yeah. I empathise with purely Minmatar pilots – the web changes hit their recons badly, the Vaga has been over-nerfed somewhat, and lol Tempest.

    Still, as I say, I think there’ll be a net benefit. And it’ll be nice to have a bit more variation in setups than slapping overdrives and nanos in the lows.

  43. caesarbear says:

    If you’re paying for the privilege of grinding out your gamey ship, then I think you’d have every right to be mad at the powers that be that nerf it in a patch. It’s essentially the designers admitting that they screwed up, and they screwed up on your dime (florin?). They should find another way of fixing the issue (effecting other ships?) or offer a refund.

    If it were a singleplayer game, no of course players don’t have a right to be angry over game updates and exploit removal, since then you’re not paying for your time.

    Otherwise I think a better solution would be to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzZZZZZzzzZzZZzZzzzzz

  44. Dinger says:

    Well, to tell the truth, most of what we say are principles are not even principles. The real principles are stuff like:
    A. Community feedback (aka “whines”, “praise”) disproportionately favors those who are most invested in the social structure of the game. (study any forum or blog comments, and you’ll find that there are subtle and not-so-subtle ways of enforcing a hierarchy)
    B. Changing the balance of a game will disrupt the social structure of the game.
    C. (MM) Online games work by creating social communities that associate gamespace entities and activities with social capital.

    and still, I like:
    D. Over time (and without intervention), asymmetric-class games tend towards increasing (class) disequilibrium.

    and even these principles are the conclusions of some other science.

    From these principles, you can get a bunch of basic observations, such as: any change that displaces an elite is going to cause whining. While elites will seek a static hierarchy, a living game needs a dynamic one: people won’t pay to be electronic serfs all their lives. But if you make the hierarchy too volatile, the social currency of the game becomes worthless, and people go elsewhere.

    Which is where nerfs come in. As a game tends towards disequilibrium, the social system starts to ossify. So something needs to be done. A nerf works, but by “Creative”, you don’t need to add complexity (although that’s not always a bad thing), you can tinker with _changing the core_. A mini-revolution, if you will. The whining will be huge, but properly managed, a period of chaos will allow for rich narratives and activities of high social value. Just little revolutions.
    So, the reason I don’t like nerfs is that you take the hit in negativity from the displaced elite, you destroy something that generates social capital, and you don’t get anybody excited by new stuff, nor do you bring into being any replacement source of social currency.

    You know, you talk about a game that’s geared to the big Space Opera with battleship-engagements. What if it went from Space Opera to small-ship battles, to carriers, to running skirmishes, back to big Ships?

  45. Noc says:

    Caesarbear, Eve’s been around since 2003. Are you trying to tell us that the game should have been finished then, and any changes they’ve made since are them correcting mistakes they should have fixed before launch?

    And I’m not really sympathetic to the “I worked for the ability to do this so I should keep it or be refunded” argument, either, for two reasons:

    One, possessions in EVE aren’t static. You spend a few million isk on a ship, and that ship gets blown up, you’ve lost it. You put billions of isk worth of implants in your brain and someone squishes your escape pod, well, those are gone too. Losing things is part of the game, and having stuff that’s not really quite as useful anymore at least allows you more chance to recoup your losses than having it blown up does. For the time spent on skills trained, which doesn’t come back . . . none of the skills are made obsolete. In fact, one of the things that no one’s really talked about is the fact that a lot of the skills that used to give a bonus to speed now give it to ship agility; you can warp out faster and pull tighter orbits at a higher speed. Skills aren’t rendered useless; they’re just rendered less useful for the thing you originally wanted them for.

    Which brings me to the second point: People train for the most useful build because they know it’s the most useful build. They buy the ships they do because they know those are the most useful ships. They know this because that fitting style, and it’s attendant skill set, is effective enough to gain widespread notoriety. Nerfs happen; this isn’t the first time they’ve happened, and it won’t be the last. Anyone who’s paying attention knows that when a certain fighting style gains widespread enough notoriety like this, a nerf’s on the way. Hell, this particular change has been talked about and discussed for the past year.

    I remember a post I read on the feedback thread for this new patch. It was by someone who’d just, finally finished training Drone skills . . . and then Drones got nerfed. And now, he’s just finally finishing getting the skillset to do Nano ships really well, and this is getting nerfed too. That’s what people do; they find the “best” way of fighting, and go for that. The smart players, the inventive players, adapt to each change. They get ahead, and have a period where they’ve the advantage before other people come on and start copying them en masse. And once the copying’s happened, then CCP needs to alter the playing field once more.

    That’s how a EVE works. It’s not a “finished product,” and it’ll never be, because the most important parts in it aren’t the quests people are doing, but the things people are doing to each other. And as THAT changes, the game needs to change to to compensate.

  46. Alex says:

    I find it interesting that there’s a continuing discussion here about physics in a game with the Jumpgates, which if I recall correctly each weigh somewhere in the region of a few million Earths.

    And anyone that hasn’t tried Eve should do so. The trial’s free, after all, and there’s a great sense of awe when you first realise that you can go wherever you want in your own personal spaceship. After all, everyone has wanted at some point or other to be in that situation. Just don’t start training your skills when you’re about to go to work or something, because it’s a slippery slope.

  47. Tom says:

    Where is the balance between the stunning social depth / time sponge that is EVE, and the mind numbing repetivity / easy to dip into MMO’s like WoW?

    When that’s found, someone shout out.

    I always thought Thief would make a good MMO.
    Large AI driven crowds with their own routines etc . Huge sprawling cities. Crime lords/banks/municipal buildings etc that can only be tackled with mates. The ability to buy a place all of your own which of course would come with the risk of being plundered, so best be sharp when you’re walking home, making sure you’re not followed. Dirty little back ally pubs called The Taffer were temporary and delicate allegiances could be formed that get raided every now and again but the local fuzz. Those with the flash bangs and quick reflexes get away, those without get nicked. The escape of your local prison itself could be an entire mini game taking an hour or so, however opportunities to sneak your way up in to the officers quarters for a little pay back could present themselves, but only for the truly skilful. You could maybe even sneak up in to the captains office and take a quick look at his raiding timetable or whatever. Set up a meeting with some unknowing players. Wait for them to get, hopefully, nicked by the fuzz and while they’re trying to escape you rip them off.

    I suspect any attempt to create such an MMO would end up being mechanically impossible, or would require such colossal scope as to render it technically impossible – at least with the internet in its current form. But god, it would rock.

  48. Filth says:

    I think APB is taking a couple of steps in this direction, at least as far as mechanics goes.

  49. Drugstore Space Cowboy says:

    I just finished reading your book, in which you made a similar point about EVE Online even back in 2006. Great read, by the way. I wish you’d spent more time on my favorite game, but I guess that might be a little selfish of me =)

  50. sigma83 says:

    Nerfs to anything will always be complained about, personal invest is why. You can see it in WoW whenever any class changes are announced, massive forum activity decrying/lauding/verbing the change.

    No different here eh